Top 10 Books Of The Year- Part 2 (The Top 5)

I’m continuing my count-down of the best books I read in 2017.

5. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven – Chris Cleave (Sceptre 2016) (Read and reviewed in April)

chriscleave

It’s been a good year for writers called Chris, as there are two of them in my Top 10. This British novelist’s fourth novel spanned the years 1939-1942 and centred on war-torn London and Malta, gripped by a blockade which threatens starvation for civilians and soldiers. I said “this is an excellent novel from a great story-teller who deserves his position amongst the best of the novelists who have written about this time in our history.”

Current Amazon sales rating: 10,968 in Books (has been much higher!)

4. The Wicked Cometh – Laura Carlin (Hodder & Stoughton 2018) (Read and reviewed in November)

lauracarlin

Feel like I’m cheating a bit here as this hasn’t even been published yet (according to latest info the hardback is due on 1st Feb.) I was really drawn into the world of this debut novel set in Victorian London.  I said “I think she has got everything more or less spot on here and has written an authentic historical novel and a really good thrilling page-turner.” Still expecting this to achieve very healthy sales in 2018.

Current Amazon sales rating: 68,464 in Books (based on pre-orders).

3. The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead (Fleet 2016) (Read and reviewed in September)

whitehead

I read this when it appeared on the Man Booker longlist and felt it had to be in with a great chance of scooping the Prize.  In the US it had taken both the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize.  Here, it shockingly failed to make the shortlist, probably overshadowed by British author Mohsin Hamid’s “Exit West” which touched on similar themes.  It was the best American novel I read this year.  I  felt “it ticks all the boxes for me, an involving, entertaining, well-written, imaginative, educational, unpredictable read.”

Current Amazon sales rating: 81 in Books (this has been a big seller)

2. Owl Song At Dawn – Emma Claire Sweeney (Legend 2016) (Read and reviewed in February)

owlsong

Pipped at the post by the very last book I read in 2017 this came very close to being the first British novel to be my book of the year since 2012 (also incidentally the last time a female author was at the top).  The fact that this is a debut novel makes it all the more outstanding.  I first heard of this when it was shortlisted by Nudge and newbooks for the BookHugger book of the year.  It went on to win beating a set of books from a very good list which also included my year end Top 10ers by Jodi Picoult and Helen Dunmore.  Dull February days were enlivened by this heartwarming novel.  An unsentimental, humorous tale of a Morecambe guest house which is being used as a holiday home for guests with disabilities and their carers.  Great central character, Maeve who is pushing 80 and has to come to terms with regrets in her past.  It wasn’t a typical read for me but it works so well on so many levels.

Current Amazon sales rating: 328, 095 in Books

And the reviewsrevues Book of The Year is………….

1.The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne (Black Swan 2017) (Read and Reviewed in December)

johnboyne

It just had to be this book.  It is Irish author John Boyne’s 10th adult novel (and there are 5 for younger readers). I haven’t read him before but I was blown away by the whole thing right from the first few pages.  I wrote a lengthy review (click on the title to read it) just to justify why it impressed me so much.  “I said It may very well be my favourite books of this decade.” I think this is a book which has a reputation which will grow and grow. Perhaps the only thing I wasn’t totally convinced by is the front cover of the paperback edition, but that’s probably nothing to do with the author.

Current Amazon sales rating: 743 in Books

John Boyne joins a select bunch of authors.  Here are my favourites from the last ten years, which probably tells you a considerable amount about me as a reader.

2017 – The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne (2017) (Ireland)

2016- Joe Speedboat – Tommy Wieringa (2016) (Netherlands)

2015- Alone In Berlin- Hans Fallada (2009 translation of a 1947 novel) (Germany)

2014- The Wanderers – Richard Price (1974) (USA)

2013- The Secrets Of The Chess Machine – Robert Lohr (2007) (Germany)

2012 – The Book Of Human Skin – Michelle Lovric (2010) (UK)

2011 – The Help- Kathryn Stockett (2009) (USA)

2010- The Disco Files 1973-78 – Vince Aletti (1998) (USA)

2009- Tokyo – Mo Hayder (2004) (UK)

2008- The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (2007) (Australia)

Happy New Year and let’s hope there’s lots of great reading in 2018!

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Books Of The Year – 2017- Part 1 (10-6)

In 2017 I managed to read 67 books which is thirteen down on my record breaking score last year but exactly the same number as I read in 2015.  Everything I’ve read has been reviewed on this site and this year I’ve awarded 10 books the maximum five stars, 31 four stars and 26 three stars, which seems to be to be a good spread.  I’ve not read anything which disappointed me enough to get a two star or one star read. I’ve read a lot more books as they are published or  soon after and looking at my Top 10 it is the first year ever where all the books have either been published in 2016 (with the paperback appearing this year), 2017 and in one not-yet-published case 2018.  I think that shows how good writing is at the moment.  I’ve not narrowed the list down to only those which appeared this year.  If I read it this year, then it’s eligible.  (The earliest dated book I read this year was 1931 and Margery Allingham’s “Police At The Funeral” but she hasn’t made the list).

What I haven’t done this year at all is re-read any books (I used to re-read about 10 books a year).  With publishers sending me books and with Netgalley pressures the re-reads have been pushed out, which is a shame as I love re-reading favourites and this is something I’ll need to rebalance in 2018.  Choosing the books for my Top 10 has actually been easier this year because of those 10 five star reads, so all I needed to do was allocate positions for my annual review of my year in books .  Anything that doesn’t make the top 10 gets culled from the bookshelves or off the Kindle, which means this year I’m losing a lot of very good books (but you can’t keep them all, I know I’ve tried in the past!)

Although I’ve read books before by two authors on my Top 10 list for all of them it is their first appearance on the list, so as far as I am concerned, these are likely to be the authors’ best books.  Those also a couple of debut novelists there.  The books are all fiction for the second year running and last year I had a fifty-fifty gender split this year the women have the edge with a 60/40 domination.  All of the titles have been  reviewed on this site- click on the titles to link to the full review.

10. Exposure- Helen Dunmore ( Windmill 2016) (Read and reviewed in January)

exposureThis was the second of Helen Dunmore’s novels I have read but her first appearance on my Best Of The Year list.  Set in 1960 in an England paranoid about the Cold War and high profile spy cases this is a thrillingly written thriller which focuses on this paranoia affecting a family when a secret file goes missing.  Helen Dunmore sadly passed away in June this year, aged 64, not long after the publication of her last book “Birdcage Walk” which I am yet to read.  She has left a legacy of 15 novels which demand to be discovered.

Current Amazon sales rating: #4592 in Books

9. The Golden Age – Joan London ( Europa 2016)  (Read in March, reviewed here in May)

goldenageAustralian author Joan London won awards in her homeland with her third novel and here was longlisted for the Wellcome Prize which focuses on books having an emphasis on health.  This was set in a polio hospital in the early 1950’s.  I described it as  “a beautifully observed, quiet novel which belies its grim subject matter and becomes a life-affirming testament to hope and love.”

Current Amazon sales rating: 202,593 in Books.

8. Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult (Hodder & Stoughton 2016) (Read and reviewed in January)

jodipicoult2

The first of this American author’s 23 novels I have read.  Her fans have told me it’s not quite like her other books but there seems to be a general consensus that this is her best.  Picoult is a superb storyteller and I thought this “feels relevant, up to the minute and especially with the America their electorate has recently chosen for them, totally convincing.  There are so many layers to the conversations that readers could have about this book.  I cannot imagine a more ideal reading group book has been published in the last few years.”

Current Amazon sales rating: 136 in Books (probably the biggest commercial hit on my list- this was a big seller when it arrived in hardback and then again in paperback).

7. All The Wicked Girls – Chris Whitaker (Zaffre 2017) (Read in June, reviewed in July)

chriswicked

Chris Whitaker is great and you should all be buying his books.  He just missed out on my Top 10 last year with his debut “Tall Oaks” and when his latest American set crime novel arrived I was convinced he would be topping best-seller lists.  He impressed me here with “how authentic the author’s creation of small town America feels, in terms  of speech, the environment, their cultural references and lives.  The prejudices and obsessions of  a small community is so effectively conveyed and I found the whole thing totally involving.”  Chris is a great friend to us bloggers.  I have interviewed him twice and he is the only author this year to make a comment on my review.  I have been told by other bloggers how enthusiastic he is about us all when appearing at book talks.  Oh, and his comment to me, just in case you haven’t seen it : “I love you, Phil. (I worry I don’t tell you that enough)”.  It wasn’t his flattery I succumbed to but the quality of his novel!The best crime novel I read this year.

Current Amazon sales rating: 61,735 in Books (it’s great commercial fiction which should be in Amazon’s best sellers).

6. Home Fire – Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury Circus 2017)  (Read and reviewed in September)

shamsie

Honestly, it is unlikely that I would have read Kamila Shamsie’s modern retelling of the Antigone myth had it not been longlisted for the Man Booker prize.  I was amazed it did not make the shortlist as I ask everyone who returns a library book copy whether they have enjoyed it and it universally gets the thumbs up.  The author, in this, her seventh novel has recast the ancient Greek characters as a Muslim family from Wembley. I said of this “Shamsie is educating, entertaining and gripping her readers in a manner which explores the potential of the plot in eye-opening, thought-provoking ways.  This feels like a very important novel for our times and yet has an age-old story as its framework.” A bag of M&Ms has a lot to answer for in this book.

Current Amazon sales rating: 2,197 in books

Next post – My Top 5 reads from 2017

Top 10 Books Of The Year -Part 2 (The Top 5)

Without any further ado here are the five books that did it for me in 2015.  To find the full reviews please click on the titles

5. Work Like Any Other – Virginia Reeves (Scribner 2016) (Read and reviewed in September)

virginiareeves

This is the one that should have made the progression from the Booker longlist to the shortlist.  An astonishing debut.  It’s 1920s Alabama and a plan to bring electricity to Roscoe Martin’s farm goes badly wrong.  It’s the second tale of rural survival on my list but is imbued throughout with hope -throughout the darkest moments there’s hope and Reeves conveys this beautifully.

4. His Bloody Project – Graeme  Macrae Burnet  (Saraband 2015) (Read and reviewed in August)

bloodyproject

My pick of the Booker Prize shortlist.  Published by a tiny Scottish independent this was one that would have slipped through my net had it not had the Booker nod.  A historical novel that reads like true crime is an interesting concept but what makes this special is the real feel of the crofting community of the Scottish highlands in 1869 through  a prison journal, witness statements, official documents and court transcripts. Sold well after its Booker recognition but a win would have turned this into one of the year’s big books.  It is certainly a big book in my opinion.

3.Black Narcissus – Rumer Godden (Virago 1939) (Read in June and reviewed in August)

blacknarcissus

Love the film but have never actually got round to reading the book.  Neurotic nuns up a mountain – what’s not to love?  I wasn’t sure if Godden would have been able to convey the technicolour lushness of the film but she certainly does.  Hopefully in 2017 I’ll be able to seek out more by her.

2. Life After Life – Kate Atkinson  (Doubleday 2013) (Read in April and reviewed in May)

atkinson

2013 Costa Novel award winner. I am the last one around to read this?  Structurally superb, risking accusations of style over substance but producing a novel which is both technically surprising and first class. “Practice makes perfect” is a theme of the novel and Atkinson here gets close to perfection.

Time for the long silence before the winner is announced (oh, can’t do long silences on a blog so I’ll get straight on with it .The reviewsrevues Book Of The Year 2016 is……….

1.  Joe Speedboat – Tommy Wieringa (Scribe 2016) (Read and reviewed in May)

joespeedboat

In any other year there could have been as many as three Wieringa novels in my Top 10 as the other two I have read are hovering outside the Top 10 and are both very good.  This is also how I felt last year with his “These Are The Names” published by Scribe and which saw them embarking on a programme to of bringing out his earlier Dutch novels translated by Sam Garrett. A 2009 debut this was apparently the biggest ever selling Dutch debut in his homeland and it deserves a huge audience here.  A coming-of-age novel about Frankie, who has survived a horrific accident and becomes swept up by the antics of newcomer Joe Speedboat.  Like all the best books it provokes a myriad of emotions- it is touching, unpredictable, outrageous and laugh out loud funny.  Scribe have been a great support to this blogger this year, but there’s certainly no favouritism.  This book has reached my summit on merit.

This is the second year I have gone for a book in translation for my top pick.  Last year’s Top 5 can be found here.  I have probably read more translated novels this year but that is because of authors such as Tommy Wieringa.  If there is a pattern, and I wouldn’t have said there was, but looking at my ten titles I can see that there may very well be one, it is to make my top 10, authors, set your novels in the past.  I wouldn’t have said I was a great historical novel fan but this list suggests otherwise… We’ll see what 2017 conjures up.  Bring it on!

As I read a lot more books this year than I normally do there are a number of titles that I feel bad about missing out on my Top 10 – so here are a few special mentions for recent publications.  The Wicked Boy – Kate Summerscale, Hot Milk-Deborah Levy, The Double Life Of Kit Kavanagh- Marina Fiorato, Eileen -Otessa Moshfegh, Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeliene Thien,  Rembrandt’s Mirror- Kim Devereux, Tall Oaks – Chris Whitaker ( incidentally a nominee for the newbooks Book Noir book of the year) , Angel Of Highgate – Vaughn Entwistle, Himself- Jess Kidd (the last four authors I have had the great pleasure of interviewing this year- always one of my personal highspots of reviewsrevues.com)

In my next post I’ll honour the re-read that gave me the most pleasure this year.

See my Top 10 Books Part 1 – numbers 10-6 here

Top 10 Books Of The Year – 2016- Part 1 (10-6)

In 2016 I managed to read 80 books which is the most I have ever read in one year.  (Last year’s total was 67 and my best ever year (2013) I read 72.  So, although I’m very pleased with myself it has proved to be much harder to come up with just 10 for my annual review of my year in books.  Anything that doesn’t make the top 10 gets culled from the bookshelves or off the Kindle so I’ve had to put much deliberation into this and come up with a list of ten books with only one author having made my top 10 on a previous occasion.  Unusually for me all of the chosen books are fiction. 7 of the 10 were authors whose work I have never read before  and there’s some debut novels in there as well.  I haven’t restricted myself to those authors whose works were published in 2016.  If I read it this year then it’s in the mix.  Last year 6 out of my 10 were published in 2015 and this year 50% of them were published in 2016, showing how exciting publishing still is and that there’s still great books coming out every month.  44 out of the 80 books I read this year were 2016 publications- a considerably higher percentage than ever before.  The only thing I have read less of is re-reads.  I’ve only revisited four books this year.  I’ve selected the very best of these which I will announce in two posts time.  There’s a satisfactory 50/50 split gender-wise on my list and all of the 10 have been reviewed on this site- click on the titles to link to the full review.

10. Jonathan Dark Or The Evidence Of Ghosts – A K Benedict (Orion 2016) (Read and reviewed in February)

jonathandark

An audacious, brave blend of modern crime, ghost story and fantasy which really works.  I thought/think that this has the potential to become a big seller but perhaps it has been difficult to market its genre-busting appeal.  I love this book for both its strengths and flaws.

9. The Lost Europeans – Emanuel Litvinoff (Apollo 2016 )(Read in May and reviewed in June)

litvinoff

In 2016 Apollo republished 8 of “the best books you’ve never heard of” and this debut originally from 1958 by a London born writer was the pick of the bunch.  Post war Berlin is brought alive through paranoia and guilt.

 

 

8. Miss Jane – Brad Watson (Picador 2016) (Read in September.  Reviewed in November)

missjane

Set in early twentieth century Mississippi this tale of rural survival sparkles because of the title character.  Miss Jane, because of an anatomical defect is an outsider yet shines through.  Probably the character I was most willing on to better things this year. Beautifully understated.

 

7. The High Mountains Of Portugal – Yann Martel (Canongate 2016) (Read and reviewed in January)

yannmartel

Martel’s “The Life Of Pi” was my 7th favourite book of 2003 and was even better on a re-read.  Thirteen years on and he’s here  at number 7 again and I expect that this will also re-read very well.  Three stories, all of which are quite bonkers, two exceptionally charming (still not too sure to make of the middle section).  Martel has me believing the unbelievable- the mark of a great storyteller.

6. The Vanishing Act Of Esme Lennox- Maggie O’Farrell (Headline 2006) (Read in January.  Reviewed in April)

ofarrell

Many thanks to newbooks who decided to have a Maggie O’Farrell retrospective prompting me to seek out this author via this extraordinary novel I had missed out on.  I sat on this review for quite a while because I didn’t know quite how to put my feelings about this book into words. I made it one of my 100 Essential reads.  It’s beautifully written and I am so looking forward to catching up with this author’s back catalogue.

 

 

Next post – The Top 5, includes a twentieth century classic, a translation, a debut, a Booker Shortlister and a literary award winner.

What You’ve Been Reading – The 5 most popular posts of 2015

To finish off my round-up of 2015 and to celebrate what will be at the end of the month my first year of blogging I thought I’d revisit my 100th post – “A Review Retrospective” .  Published in July it looked at the reviews that had been attracting the most attention.  Has the last five months brought about any change, or is it the same posts getting the visitors?  Here is my 2015 most popular reviewsrevues posts Top 5.

5.The Secrets To Ruling School – Neil Swaab (Published 2015.  Reviewed in June)

swaab

The only book in the 5 which didn’t appear in my most read chart back in July, this has attracted a steady stream of visitors for the last half of the year and is the most popular children’s book review on the site.  Neil and I were in contact via Twitter where he thanked me for the review and confessed he had never heard of  the St Custard’s books featuring Molesworth (eg: “Down With Skool” by Geoffrey Wilans) which so entertained British schoolchildren of an earlier generation (perhaps these books didn’t make it over to the USA).  I hope he has managed to track these down as I am sure he would enjoy them…

4. Murder! Hollywood Style- Carol Branston (Published 2015.  Reviewed in May)

branston

With delightfully trashy characters this recreates nicely the golden days of best sellers by the likes of Jacqueline Susann and Harold Robbins.  It was great that Carol got in touch with me about the review and agreed to be the very first of my author interviews in my Author Strikes Back strand.  This boosted the traffic to the book and hopefully got the author a lot of sales.  Since then I’ve had a visit from a friend of Carol’s who turned up on my doorstep to pass on Carol’s best wishes.  Who says it’s a lonely life blogging?!!

3. Bell’s A Poppin’ – Madeline Bell (A 2004 CD release of a 1967 album.  Reviewed in March)

madeline

The most read of my CD reviews which has attracted a strong following throughout the year.  Looking at trends there’s a  marked difference between book review readers and CD readers.  It is the newest books that tends to attract the most visitors but it is the older, more obscure music releases that draw the crowds.  It’s great to see that this highly under-rated American performer who recorded this album over here in the UK has not been forgotten.

2. The Mark And The Void – Paul Murray (Published in 2015.  Reviewed in June)

markandvoid

A case of ever the bridesmaid?  Having just been pipped to the post in my reviewsrevues Book Of the Year rundown by one of the last books I read in 2015 this book which was at the top of the most read pile when I published the 100th post has slipped down to the runner-up position.  Shortlisted at the Irish Book Awards where it would have been a very deserving winner it lost out to Anne Enright’s “The Green Road“.  For me it was the best book published last year and a great achievement.

The most read review in 2015 was…………………………….(fanfare!) (drum rolls)

1.The Murders At White House Farm- Carol Ann Lee (Published in 2015.  Reviewed in June)

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Made number 6 in my Best Books Of The Year and my favourite slab of non-fiction I read in 2015.  This book fascinated and unnerved me and over the last six months the review has managed to surge ahead of its rivals.  This bodes well for the paperback edition which is due in (I think) April.  It was great that Carol Ann got in touch and agreed to my rigorous interviewing technique (!) in my author strikes back strand.  Congratulations to Carol Ann Lee- your book has proved to be the one on reviewsrevues that most readers wanted to find out about!

So it’s now 2016 and time to reset the counters back to zero.  I’ll revisit these statistics for my 200th post (probably not that far away now).

I’ve finished all my year-end retrospectives now – It’s time to get on with 2016!!

My Top Re-Reads of 2015

I re-read 8 books in 2015.  My Top three I have read at least three times- they are books I keep coming back to, so deserve a mention in my round-up of the year.  Just click on the titles to be taken to the full reviews.

3. Krindlekrax – Philip Ridley (Red Fox 1991) (Read in September. Reviewed in October)krindlekrax2  One of my all time favourite children’s book and superb to read aloud.

2. The Crimson Petal And The White – Michel Faber  (Canongate 2002)(Read in March.  Reviewed in September)

faber

Set in Victorian times this book is a monumental achievement. Unflinching and often explicit with excellent characterisation.

  1. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak  (Black Swan 2007) (Read in January.  Reviewed in April)

zusak

 

The more I read this book the more I love it.  Just don’t make me watch the film!

Top 10 Books Of The Year 2015 – Part 2 (The Top 5)

Without any further ado here are the five books that did it for me in 2015.  To find the full reviews please click on the titles.

5. Dream A Little Dream – Giovanna Fletcher (Penguin 2015) (Read and reviewed in September)

fletcher

Scores highly on the likeability factor.  Whilst husband Tom together with McFly bandmate Dougie Poynter were ascending up the children’s bestseller lists with their books about pooping dinosaurs Giovanna produced her third novel, a slab of female-interest fiction which works well on all counts.

4. The Luminous Life Of Lily Aphrodite – Beatrice Colin (John Murray 2008) (Read in May and reviewed in June)

lillyaphrodite

I was a bit slow getting round to this.  One of two books in my Top 5 set in 20th Century Berlin this debut novel is a massive achievement with a totally captivating main character.  A rich, rewarding read.

3. A Spool of Blue Thread – Anne Tyler (Vintage 2015) (Read and reviewed in November)

bluethread

Man Booker Prize nominated and one which is appearing on a lot of “Best Of The Year” lists.  The first book by American author Tyler I have read (I’ll hopefully be putting that right in 2016).  A beautifully written family saga.  Bags of appeal, an excellent choice for reading groups and a book I found genuinely hard to put down.

2. The Mark And The Void- Paul Murray (Penguin 2015) (Read and Reviewed in June)

markandvoid

Just pipped at the post by one of the last books I read this year. This is, nevertheless, my favourite book of those published in 2015.  But what has  happened to it?  By now I expected to be seeing it appearing on Bestseller lists, end of year lists and awards shortlists.  It was shortlisted for Book Club Book Of The Year at the Irish Book Awards but was beaten by Anne Enright’s “The Green Road“, which I didn’t think was as good.  Could this be a case where marketing has let the book down?  I feel this odd to say about a company such as Penguin but a bizarre decision might have occured here.  I read a pre-publication e-book (thanks Netgalley) and did keep a look out for it in bookshops, but the only copy I’ve seen (and admittedly we are not inundated with bookshops where I live) was in a Waterstones and it was an odd, flimsy looking two volume paperback affair in a slip-case which was already looking tatty on the shelves.  I would not have bought it.  Now, this may have just been some limited special edition but I hope it hasn’t damaged Murray’s chances of getting the big bestseller this very funny novel deserves to be.

So drum-roll time…………….The reviewsrevues Book Of The Year 2015 is………..

1. Alone In Berlin – Hans Fallada (Penguin 2009) (Read and reviewed in December)

fallada

Rightfully published by Penguin as a Modern Classic.  Not published in the UK until 2009 this translation of a 1947 German novel is an important book.  The tale of one couple’s attempts to undermine the Nazi regime through postcard writing is chilling and gripping and an extraordinary read.

Well, that’s it for another year.  Time to wipe the slate clean and start reading for 2016.  Congratulations to the writers, publishers and other bloggers who have had me enjoying my reading so much in 2015.  And the prizes for the winners……  All of the top 10 authors will have another title of theirs put on to my To Be Read list.  Where it’s a debut or where no other book is available I’ll take a punt and see what Amazon suggest in their “Customers who bought this item also bought” and stick one of them on my list.  I’ve been reading recently about how other bloggers keep their “To Be Read list” and mine has been a haphazard affair, but I’ve been bowled over by how some organise this and I’ve been inspired to follow along similar lines.  The spreadsheet as revealed by Fiction Fan is an inspiration! Happy Reading!  For my next post I’ll be revealing which of the books I re-read this year confirmed by original impression…………………..

See my Top 10 Books Part 1 – numbers 10-6 here

 

Top 10 Books Of The Year – 2015 – Part 1 (10-6)

Of the 67 books I read this year it’s time to select the Top 10.  (That total was a couple up from last year but quite a few less than the golden reading year of 2013).  Getting in the Top 10 is important as only those hallowed tomes are allowed to remain on the bookshelves.  In an annual  book cull which seems to mark for me the end of the old year those that did not make the cut are already bagged up ready to donate to the library and charity shops and the unsuccessful e-books have been permanently deleted off the Kindle.  It’s a tough world over at reviewsrevues – but it’s really only to stop me appearing on one of those hoarder documentaries or being discovered half-buried under collapsed piles of books.  (Anyway, on the very same day as I cleared space on the Kindle I got excited about those Delphi Complete Classics editions on Amazon which has the complete works of writers for under £1 – so don’t think I’m depriving myself!)  Without further ado here starts of the rundown of the ten best books I have read this year.  (I haven’t restricted my list to those published this year but anything I read this year.)  However, my reading habits  must have changed as there are an unprecedented 6 out of the 10 that made their appearance in 2015.  I have separated the eight books I re-read into their own list- otherwise the same books would win time after time.  My favourite re-read will be announced in two posts time.  7 out of the ten books are by women.  It’s been a great year for women writers at reviewsrevues.  All of the 10 have been reviewed on this site- click on the titles to link to the full review.

10. Becoming Nancy- Terry Ronald (Corgi 2011) (Read in July- Reviewed in September)

nancy

Set in the late 70’s in East Dulwich this is a coming out story which is in turns sweet, romantic, coarse, gritty, tragic and funny.  What more could you ask for? Debut novel from ex-pop star.  Sent me glassy-eyed with nostalgia.

9. Spill Simmer Falter Wither – Sara Baume (Windmill 2015) (Read and reviewed in November)

baume

The debut novel of  2015?  It’s currently on shortlists for First Novel at The Costas and  has just scooped Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards.  Beautifully and powerfully written this is an extended love letter of one man to his dog.  Watch this book pick up many more fans over the coming months.

8. I’ll Never Write My Memoirs – Grace Jones (Simon & Schuster 2015) (Read and reviewed in October)

gracebook

Thank goodness you did, Grace….  This was the celebrity biography I had waited years to be written and I wasn’t disappointed.  As told to music journalist Paul Morley the weird wonderful world of Grace Jones comes shining through.

7. Dear Blue Peter – Edited by Biddy Baxter (Short Books 2008) (Read in June- Reviewed in December)

dearbluepeter

Sheer unashamed entertainment and a genius way to celebrate Blue Peter’s 50th anniversary (back in 2008).  Let the viewers do the work with a collection of their letters over the years, all itching for their Blue Peter badges.  Reading this you can appreciate why this programme has been important to so many and why it has lasted so long.  Very funny and well balanced between praise and criticism this is a real slice of Britishness.

6. Murders At White House Farm – Carol Ann Lee (Pan Macmillan 2015) (Read and reviewed in June)

bamber

The non-fiction book of the year as far as I am concerned this chilling and through account of events in 1985 at Tolleshunt D’Arcy, Essex which resulted in the murder of five members of the Bamber family and the trial and conviction of Jeremy Bamber.  Painstakingly researched.  I was delighted to interview author Carol Ann Lee.  I thought it might set me off on a true crime reading spree but that hasn’t happened yet but I’m still keeping the titles Carol Ann recommended on my To Be Read list.

Next post – The Top 5 – All novels, three published in 2015.